MERTHYR TOWN 1 HARROW BOROUGH 1
By Harrow Borough
Was it a point gained or two points dropped? Probably the former. Although Harrow were a goal up at the interval, and showing a degree of control, the second half was a different kettle of fish after the Martyrs equalised early on,
and Borough had to defend desperately at times in order to return to England with a point.
Steve Baker selected the same starting eleven as had overcome leaders Taunton a week ago, but it was the hosts who settled the quicker on the 3G surface. Nathaniel Oseni had to make an important interception from a cross from Swallow, Jones headed across goal from a corner, and Traylor beat Frank Keita but drove the ball over. Shaun Preddie cleared the ball after another Merthyr corner led to some pinball in the visiting box.
But Harrow then settled, began to press their opponents more (this aspect surely the main determinant of whether Borough are ‘on’ or ‘off’ this season?) and pass the ball confidently. Ryan Moss got above a defender to head the ball on to Anthony O’Connor, whose snap-shot went past the post. Keita’s cross then saw the ball bundled into the home net, but the ‘goal’ was disallowed, presumably for a foul on keeper Webb. But Borough did go ahead, in the 34th minute. Ryan Haugh and Keita combined in a corner routine but the delivery was far too deep. Adam Pepera chased after the ball, keeping it in play just inside the touchline. A defender won the ball off him but then gifted it to the Harrow centre-back. He advanced to the corner of the box and tried his luck with a low right foot shot. Webb was probably unsighted as his dive was too late and the ball ended up in the far corner.
Swallow shot wide for the Martyrs but the half ended with another fine Moss jump and header sending O’Connor away. Keita was free to his left but he chose a shot which was blocked.
Harrow have conceded too often soon after half-time this season, and here was another occasion. In the 49th minute Mark McLeod, otherwise excellent, lost the ball in midfield, and Merthyr advanced quickly on the left. A clever one-two between Jones and Traylor opened up the space for Traylor to drive the ball low across Hafed Al-Droubi from about 12 yards.
Immediately afterwards, Harrow responded well. Webb turned Josh Andrew’s shot round the post and then turned over O’Connor’s header from the resulting corner. But then the hosts began to gain the upper hand. Pepera made a great blocking challenge on Prosser as he shaped to shoot, and Swallow clipped the ball wide after Preddie had lost possession. Al-Droubi was then closed down as he cleared the ball, Traylor collecting possession but shooting wide. Keita gave away a needless free-kick on the right, which was played back to Lucas, whose drive from the edge of the box brought a fine save from Al-Droubi, and a long period of home pressure ended with Lucas firing over. A crisp Merthyr interchange ended with Al-Droubi saving from Jones, before substitute George Moore lost the ball, allowing the hosts to attack down the left, with Traylor firing over.
Pepera had been one of four Harrow players yellow-carded, and he was lucky to escape with just a lecture when he brought down a Merthyr player on the touchline. Moore fired a free-kick and another shot wide in a late Harrow foray, but it was the visiting fans, again travelling in good numbers, who were the happiest to hear the final whistle.
Harrow fell back a place, to seventh, with this result, but it was a good one all the same. Borough now have their first midweek off for a while before travelling to Hartley Wintney next Saturday.
MERTHYR TOWN: Lewis Webb, Adam Davies, Kieran Lewis, Lee Lucas, Jarrad Wright (booked, 57 mins), Matthew Harris, Ben Swallow (sub Tom Meechan, 82 mins), Jamie Veale, Ryan Prosser (wore no.14) (sub Kerry Morgan, 62 mins), Owain Jones, Ian Traylor (booked, 80 mins). Unused subs: Gavin Williams, Craig Reddy, Jay Foulston.
HARROW BOROUGH: Hafed Al-Droubi, Josh Andrew (sub Max Holland, 83 mins), Ryan Haugh, Shaun Preddie (booked, 13 mins), Adam Pepera (booked, 71 mins), Nathaniel Oseni, Anthony O’Connor (booked, 66 mins; sub Mark Bitmead, 83 mins), Mark McLeod, Ryan Moss, Michael Bryan (sub George Moore, 72 mins), Frank Keita (booked, 74 mins). Unused sub: Lewis Cole.
Referee: Mr C Scriven